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What Convinced Michael Mando To Play Nacho On Better Call Saul?

The conflicted cartel member Nacho Varga (Michael Mando) has been a mainstay of AMC's "Better Call Saul" ever since his debut in the show's second episode. He first appears as the right-hand man to psychotic drug lord Tuco Salamanca (Raymond Cruz), and originally seems to be yet another nameless thug in service to the Salamanca cartel. As the series progresses, though, he evolves to become a main character, and we follow his journey through the upper ranks of the cartel as the right-hand man to Hector and later Lalo, while also acting as an informant for the opponent of the Salamancas, Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito).

Nacho is a shrewd, calculating man who successfully plays both sides of the cartel war without getting caught, and may just be one of the most intelligent characters in the entire series. He's so much more than your average career criminal, and it's this unique depth in the character that first attracted Michael Mando to the role.

Mando was originally wary of being typecast as a villain

During an interview with TV Guide, Mando admitted that he was hesitant about taking on the role at first because he didn't want to play another villain. "Nacho was initially supposed to be an antagonist moving into Season 1," Mando explained. "And I was really weary about playing a stereotypical character." He recalls how reading the description of Nacho really intrigued him because of how nuanced the character was. He specifically references the description of Nacho as "someone who would not squash a bug with a sledgehammer," which indicated to him that this character was so much more than the average criminal.

Prior to being cast in "Better Call Saul," Mando was perhaps best known for his performance as the sociopathic warlord Vaas Montenegro from Far Cry 3, who was about as exuberant, dangerous and mentally unstable as any villain could be. By contrast, Nacho is quiet, calm, and is shown to have a deep love for his family despite the fact that he is in such a ruthless line of work. Nacho is one of the most interesting and layered characters in all of "Better Call Saul," and despite Mando's early misgivings, it's clear that he has come to embrace the role in every aspect.